“Call me Tim. Some days ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my wallet, and nothing particular to interest me on land, I thought I would stalk about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
To those who get that reference, thank your high school or college American Literature teacher.
Carpe Carp Diem. That’s what happened in this video. I’d seen these beasts before…giant aquatic cows who munch on vegetation for years and years. One time, several years back I intentionally snagged one with my five weight fly rod. It was March and the water still cold enough that he sluggishly pulled me around in a small, two person boat until the hook ripped out. I knew I wanted to land one someday.
People who fish saltwater or for big cats know this but for regular folks (like myself), you can’t truly appreciate the force of a fish this big until you’re connected to it. Once you’re tethered and the fish realizes that and begins surging, there’s a moment when you think you’ve made a terrible mistake and are in over your head. That’s what happened here.
There were at least four (the one I took was not the biggest) grass carp who were cycling through this shallow cove on the pond. As I mentioned in the video, I could see their dorsal fins from a distance, that’s how I knew they were there. I started stalking up to that oak tree once they began their outbound trip to deeper water. My experience with sneaking up on fish of any species is that they are incredibly in tune with what’s going on in and out of the water.
It’s hard to see in the video, but this fish was making a loop back near shore from left to right. Earlier in the day I had sharpened the arrow point and increased the draw weight on the bow to ensure full penetration (I’ve had arrows deflect back off of large carp due to the thickness of their scales). These grassies are extremely spooky and I knew I’d only get one opportunity.
As I leaned against that oak tree I realized I had no platform for the camera, so I stuck it in my mouth…and I’m a mouth breather, hence the Darth Vader effect beginning at 1:25 in the video.
When you miss a fish, and I’ve missed quite a few, you know it. The fish bolts, leaving a boil in the water and the arrow continues for some distance until you put the brakes on. When you stick one, it’s completely different. Often you’ll see a flash of the fish’s lighter belly as they contort and the arrow stops taking line pretty quickly. I knew right away this fish was stuck.
One of my neighbors previewed the raw footage that evening and commented that it looked like the carp didn’t fight much. Relative to fighting it on a rod and reel, no it didn’t, but those initial seconds of pulling reminded me of holding the leash in the early days of taking my Labrador Mr. Frodo on walks.
A final cool thing about this fish has nothing to do with bowfishing, or the fact that she weighed in at over 38 pounds; it brought our neighborhood a little closer. I had eleven neighbors in my front yard that evening standing around, taking pictures, cracking jokes (Bob says he uses fish that size for bait) and shooting the breeze. It wasn’t only a kill, it was an event.
Enjoy the footage. Carpe Carp Diem!